Marine Genetic Resources Beyond National Jurisdictions: Negotiating Options on Intellectual Property
By Siva Thambisetty
Negotiations on marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) convene after a significant hiatus during which intellectual property monopolies have come under intense normative and pragmatic scrutiny. This paper historicises developments in legal arrangements over intellectual property and biodiversity to propose several negotiating options on the control, use and circulation of marine genetic resources of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The text-based options presented here operationalise an equitable approach taking into account the interests of low power groups, cross-cutting issues and the often ignored question of the ownership and use of marine genetic resources through intellectual property rights.
South Centre Semester Report, July – December 2021
The South Centre undertakes policy-oriented research on issues, as defined in its Work Program (https://www.southcentre.int/work-program/), that are relevant to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It supports the countries of the South to effectively participate in negotiating processes in order to build up a multilateral system that supports and does not undermine development efforts. It also provides policy and technical advice and capacity building in support of countries and institutions of the South. Catalogues of the publications of the Centre can be found at https://www.southcentre.int/publications-catalogues/.
The South Centre expands its reach and impact by leveraging cooperation with other international organizations, research institutions, academia and civil society.
This Semester Report is an account of how the South Centre’s Secretariat has fulfilled the Centre’s mission through the different workstreams for the period July – December 2021.
Statement by the South Centre to the 2021 Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO
The South Centre is the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries based in Geneva. We are of the view that a central goal of WIPO as part of the UN system is to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. A balanced and flexible international intellectual property system, with adequate safeguards, can be supportive of the SDGs, as set by SDG 3b. Global supply and access to Covid-19 countermeasures can be accelerated with increased cooperation and removal of IP barriers. WIPO should support its Members to reach agreement on a temporary waiver of the TRIPS Agreement.
Statement by the South Centre to the Third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)
The South Centre, the intergovernmental think tank of developing countries based in Geneva, is pleased to participate in the third meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). There is a lot of work to be done until COP-15. The new draft of the GBF improves on the previous version, yet several areas require significant improvements.
South Centre Submission to the 18th Session of the CGRFA
The South Centre presents its compliments to the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) and is pleased to send to the Commission the following information on its programmes and activities relevant to the prioritized themes for the 18th session of the CGRFA.
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2021. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications of the outcomes of internal policy-oriented research and external contributions made as a result of cooperation with the Centre.
TRIPS Flexibilities and TRIPS-plus Provisions in the RCEP Chapter on Intellectual Property: How Much Policy Space is Retained?
By Vitor Henrique Pinto Ido
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on 15 November 2020 by 15 Asian-Pacific countries (ASEAN—Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—, and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand), comprising about one third of the world’s population and economy. India was a crucial party to the negotiations but opted out of the agreement. Ratification of the agreement is still pending, subject to more Parties ratifying it at the national level. This paper provides a broad overview of the RCEP agreement and discusses the details of the intellectual property (IP) Chapter. Significantly, it does not contain substantive TRIPS-plus provisions that undermine public health in developing countries—although it does contain such provisions in other areas such as copyrights, trademarks, and IP enforcement.
South Centre Statement to the formal meeting of SBSTTA 24
Agenda Item 3: Post 2020 GBF
Subsidiary bodies of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are formally meeting to advance the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework. A dedicated funding mechanism for the CBD and mechanism for technology transfer and capacity building should be part of the framework. Read the SC statement.
Misappropriation of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge: Challenges Posed by Intellectual Property and Genetic Sequence Information
By Nirmalya Syam and Thamara Romero
Improper acquisition of genetic resources (GRs) and associated traditional knowledge (TK) without prior informed consent and on mutually agreed terms, in accordance with national laws of the country providing the GR and associated TK, as well as without any fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from their utilization, has been a significant concern for developing countries. Intellectual property (IP) rights can serve as one of the means of such misappropriation. One of the mechanisms sought by developing countries to prevent it consists in the establishment of an effective multilateral legal mechanism for defensive protection against misappropriation, primarily through the introduction of a mandatory disclosure requirement about the source and country of origin of such resources in intellectual property right (IPR) applications. These negotiations have been taking place in different fora. However, there is an increased sense of frustration due to the lack of progress in achieving consensus during the last twenty years. Meanwhile, new modes of misappropriation of GRs are evolving through the use of genetic sequence information and data of GRs, and by applying technological developments in synthetic biology. This paper discusses the use of IP and genetic sequence information and data as modes of misappropriation of GRs and associated TK and the deficits of the current international legal framework in preventing such misappropriation. This paper also maps the state of play of the ongoing negotiations in the context of these issues in different fora, and, in conclusion, proposes possible alternative approaches for addressing these pressing issues at the multilateral level.
Proposals to Advance the Negotiations of the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework
By Dr. Viviana Muñoz Tellez
Informal consultations are ongoing in virtual format towards the adoption of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Fifteenth meeting of the CBD-COP is scheduled to be held on 11–24 October 2021, in Kunming, China. For negotiations to succeed, the Framework must be ambitious, balanced and achievable, building on past commitments. All three pillars of the CBD must be equally advanced. The Rio principles in particular on common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), must be clearly reflected. This policy brief advances proposals towards advancing negotiations on the current zero-draft of the Framework towards realizing the 2050 global vision of living in harmony with nature.
Intellectual Property in the EU–MERCOSUR FTA: A Brief Review of the Negotiating Outcomes of a Long-Awaited Agreement
In collaboration with Juan I. Correa
This paper provides a first glance at the Intellectual Property Chapter of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the European Union (EU). It is not intended to provide an exhaustive analysis of the commitments involved but rather to briefly review the scope of intellectual property in the bi-regional negotiations, which took more than 20 years and ended in June 2019 with an “agreement in principle.” It also aims to put the Chapter into context with the whole commitments covered by the FTA and, finally, to highlight its most relevant aspects.
WIPO Negotiations for an International Legal Instrument on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources
By Nirmalya Syam
Over the past few years, Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have engaged in negotiations for concluding an international legal instrument on intellectual property and genetic resources. While developing countries have a major interest in securing through this instrument a mandatory requirement for applicants of IP rights over innovations that utilize genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge to disclose their source or origin, certain developed countries that are major markets for such products are absolutely opposed to recognizing the disclosure requirement as an objective of the legal instrument under negotiation. Other developed countries are agreeable to a disclosure requirement with a narrow scope, broad exceptions, and weakened remedies against non-compliance. This Policy Brief analyses the current state of play in the negotiations considering the different positions as reflected in the draft negotiating text, as well as a proposal by the Chair of the WIPO intergovernmental committee where the negotiations are taking place, to bridge the difference and take the negotiations forward. This brief concludes that any meaningful international legal instrument on IP and GRs in WIPO must recognize the fundamental issue of misappropriation of GRs through the IP system that should be resolved through a mandatory disclosure requirement as the principal mechanism. It would also be critical to ensure that the WIPO instrument is coherent with other related international legal instruments such the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing; specialized instruments like the FAO Plant Treaty as well as related mechanisms or fora like the WHO (on use of pathogens as a genetic resource) and the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) negotiations on marine genetic resources beyond areas of national jurisdiction.